Mondays with MacDonald (on the Christian response to hell)
by Steve Douglas
July 23rd, 2012 | 11 Comments
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” “Love your enemies, and ye shall be the children of the highest.” It is the divine glory to forgive.
Yet a time will come when the Unchangeable will cease to forgive; when it will no more belong to his perfection to love his enemies; when he will look calmly, and have his children look calmly too, upon the ascending smoke of the everlasting torments of our strong brothers, our beautiful sisters! Nay, alas! the brothers are weak now; the sisters are ugly now!
O brother, believe it not. “O Christ!” the redeemed would cry, “where art thou, our strong Jesus? Come, our grand brother. See the suffering brothers down below! See the tormented sisters! Come, Lord of Life! Monarch of Suffering! Redeem them. For us, we will go down into the burning, and see whether we cannot at least carry through the howling flames a drop of water to cool their tongues.”
Believe it not, my brother, lest it quench forgiveness in thee, and thou be not forgiven, but go down with those thy brothers to the torment; whence, if God were not better than that phantom thou callest God, thou shouldst never come out; but whence assuredly thou shalt come out when thou hast paid the uttermost farthing; when thou hast learned of God in hell what thou didst refuse to learn of him upon the gentle-toned earth; what the sunshine and the rain could not teach thee, nor the sweet compunctions of the seasons, nor the stately visitings of the morn and the eventide, nor the human face divine, nor the word that was nigh thee in thy heart and in thy mouth—the story of Him who was mighty to save, because he was perfect in love.
O Father, thou art All-in-all, perfect beyond the longing of thy children, and we are all and altogether thine.
George MacDonald (from his sermon ”Love Thine Enemy”, published in Unspoken Sermons, Series 1, 1867)